Clerical Celibacy

Now the sons of [the priest] Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord” (1 Samuel 2: 12).

In the context of the Catholic Church sex scandal, it is not unusual to read that celibacy is the root cause of child molestation by priests; that, if only the church would move forward into the modern world and abandon this bizarre requirement of its clergy, instances of child molestation by priests would vanish overnight.

This is in error. It puts the blame for the heinous crime of child sexual abuse on an “outmoded” system of belief, rather than on the shoulders of pederasts, where it rightly belongs.

The vow of celibacy taken by Catholic priests is akin to the vow of fidelity in marriage. There are those who would argue fidelity, too, is a lost cause, a pointless exercise in the face of an overwhelming evolutionary mandate. I am not among them.

The commitment to celibacy is a symbol of the commitment to hold oneself apart from the world, to save our highest and best for God alone [1].

In direct opposition to this, child molestation is, at heart, the abuse of power; an ultimate act of selfishness without regard for the negative impact to victims, in fact, the “sweeter” to the predator because of that impact.

Sex with children is “real” sex. It constitutes a violation of the vow of celibacy, rather than an exception to it. It is certainly a betrayal of the pastoral function.

Grown men and women, whatever their profession or calling, do NOT have sex with children.

[1] Not all would agree that this is necessary. Protestant ministers of various denominations follow a different model.

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Justice, Religion, Sexual Abuse

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